Water Quality Certification and Isolated Wetland Permits

Anyone who wishes to discharge dredged or fill material into the waters of the U.S., regardless of whether on private or public property, must obtain a Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and a Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the state.

Anyone who wishes to discharge dredged or fill material into isolated wetlands in Ohio must obtain an Isolated Wetland Permit from Ohio EPA.

The 401 Water Quality Certification and Isolated Wetland Permitting Section reviews applications for projects that propose the placement of fill or dredged material into waters of the State, including streams, lakes and wetlands. The section also reviews required mitigation of issued permits and performs wetland research.

To make a complaint and/or report illegal fill activities, please email the Complaint Form [Word or PDF] to EPA.401Webmail@epa.ohio.gov.

The Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water has received an application for, and has begun to consider whether to issue or deny, a Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification and/or isolated wetland permit for the projects listed in the following table.

To facilitate public involvement, electronic copies of the application materials are available during the public comment period. Copies of the application and technical support information also may be inspected at Ohio EPA-DSW, Lazarus Government Center, 50 West Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus, Ohio, by first calling (614) 644-2001. Copies of the application and technical support information can also be made available upon request at Ohio EPA district offices by calling the same number.

Submit Comments

Ohio EPA will accept written comments on the application through the close of business on the comment due date specified. Anyone may submit written comments or requests to be placed on a mailing list for information by writing to: Ohio EPA-DSW, Attention: Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049.

Ohio EPA # Description County Comments Due
134299
[PDF 5.5 MB]
Sandusky Harbor Dredging 2014 - Martin Wargo, U.S.A.C.E. Erie TBD
134287
[PDF 1.4 MB]
Lorain Harbor Dredge 2014 - U.S.A.C.E. Lorain 2/16/2014
134292 Support Docs 
[file folder]
Cuyahoga Harbor Dredge 2014 - U.S.A.C.E. Cuyahoga 3/14/2014
134257 Support Docs 
[file folder]
BUT-SR177-10.48 - ODOT Butler 4/4/2014

144344
[PDF 11 MB]

Honda East Liberty Plant  South Yard Expansion - Honda of America, Mfg Inc. Logan 4/11/2014
144335 Support Docs 
[file folder]
Piergallini Mine Site - Oxford Mining Company, LLC. Jeffersion 4/23/2014
134308 Support Docs 
[file folder]
HAN-75-14.39 IWP Level 2 - ODOT
Hancock 4/17/2014
134309 Support Docs 
[file folder]
HAN-75-14.39 401 - ODOT
Hancock 5/7/2014
144349 Support Docs 
[file folder]
East Ohio Gas TPL2 - East Ohio Gas Company Summit/Stark TBD
134313 Support Docs 
[file folder]
MOT-70-10.79 - ODOT Montgomery 6/11/2014
134300 Support Docs
[file folder]
Third Hollow Coarse Refuse Facility - Buckingham Coal Company Perry TBD
144367
[PDF 10 MB]
Liberty South Development Butler TBD
       

Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires state agencies to evaluate projects that will result in the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States to determine whether the discharge will violate the State’s water quality standards. Any person who wishes to place dredged or fill material into wetlands, streams or lakes must apply for an individual Section 401 certification unless the project meets the Ohio EPA conditions of applicable nationwide permits.

Activities typically requiring 401 certification include stream rerouting, culverting streams, filling wetlands and dredging and filling in lakes. Typical projects include highway construction, marina and dock construction, shopping mall construction, strip mining operations or housing subdivisions. A Section 401 certification is required for activities that require federal permits such as a Section 404 permit, a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license, or a U.S. Coast Guard permit.


Planning a project that will impact wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes or other regulated water resources, and anticipating how Ohio EPA will respond to your application can be difficult. In an effort to avoid delays and confusion, and ensure that Ohio's environment is protected, Ohio EPA offers pre-application coordination for all applicants who need to apply for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification or Isolated Wetland Permit. Most delays in the application review process are caused by applicants not providing all the information required by Ohio EPA. Through the pre-application coordination process, Ohio EPA representatives can help ensure you know exactly what you need before you submit your application.

A pre-application meeting is an informal, completely voluntary (though highly recommended) process where you meet with an Ohio EPA 401 Coordinator to discuss a project that is in its early planning stages.

ORC section 6111.30 specifies what items must be submitted for a Water Quality Certification application package to be considered complete. The required components under ORC division 6111.30(A) are:

  1. A complete 401 Water Quality Certification application form; see Application Primer;

  2. A copy of the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdictional determination letter. If no jurisdictional determination is to be issued by the Corps, the public notice or notification that the project is authorized under a general permit will fulfill this requirement;

  3. If the project impacts a wetland, a wetland characterization analysis consistent with the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method;

  4. If the project impacts a stream for which a specific aquatic life use designation has not been made, a use attainability analysis;

  5. A specific and detailed mitigation proposal, including the location and proposed legal mechanism for protecting the property in perpetuity;

  6. Applicable permit fees;

  7. Site photographs;

  8. Adequate documentation confirming that the applicant has requested comments from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service regarding threatened and endangered species, including the presence or absence of critical habitat;

  9. Descriptions, schematics, and appropriate economic information of the applicant’s preferred alternative, non-degradation alternatives and minimal degradation alternatives for design and operation of the activity;

  10. The applicant’s investigation report of the waters of the United States in support of the 404 permit application. If no investigation report is required by the Corps, the public notice or notification that the project is to be authorized under a general permit will fulfill this requirement; and

  11. A copy of the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ public notice regarding the 404 permit application. If no public notice is to be issued by the Corps, notification that the project is authorized under a general permit will fulfill this requirement.

Ohio Revised Code division 6111.30(B) requires Ohio EPA to review an application within 15 business days of submission and to notify the applicant in writing whether the application is considered complete, or not. If incomplete, the letter will specify what parts of the application package are missing. If complete, the letter will specify what type of public notice is required for the proposed project. The letter will also provide the name and contact information for the application reviewer assigned to that project. This notification will be a letter that is faxed to the applicant or their designated agent. The applicant, or their agent, will be asked to acknowledge receipt of the 15-day review letter by signature and return fax.

Should the application be incomplete, the applicant has 60 days in which to provide the missing information. After 60 days, the Director may return the application and the review fee without further action. The application fee will not be refunded.

Division 6111.30(C) of the Ohio Revised Code places the responsibility for issuing a public notice about the application for the project with the applicant. Ohio EPA has prepared an instruction sheet to assist the applicant through this process. The instruction sheet describes the steps to be taken and coordination needed to complete this task in a timely manner.

  1. A formal mid-project review meeting procedure has been established to ensure that all applicants are offered the opportunity to meet with the application reviewer after the close of the public comment period if they so desire.

  2. A formal dispute resolution procedure has been established to ensure the timely resolution of disagreements that arise during the technical review process.

Key provisions of the 401 Water Quality Certification and Isolated Wetland Permit fees are:

  • A person that applies for a Certification or Permit must pay an application fee of $200 at the time of application.
  • In addition to the application fee, that person must pay the following review fees:
Resource Impacted Review Fee
Wetland $500 per acre
Ephemeral Stream $5 per linear foot or $200, whichever is greater
Intermittent Stream $10 per linear foot or $200, whichever is greater
Perennial Stream $15 per linear foot or $200, whichever is greater
Lake $3 per cubic yard of dredged or fill material
   

  • For 401 Water Quality Certification applications, one-half of the applicable review fee is due at the time of application. The remainder of the fee shall be paid at the time the Director takes an action on the application.
  • For Isolated Wetland Permit applications, the entire review fee is due at the time of application.

The total fee paid shall not exceed $25,000 per application. If the applicant is a county, township, or municipal corporation in the state, the total fee paid shall not exceed $5,000 per application.

When submitting an application, please provide a check, payable to the Treasurer of the State of Ohio for the application fee and one half of the review fee. The balance of the review fee will be due once the Agency has taken a final action on an application. You will receive an invoice from Ohio EPA for the remaining fees that are due.

For Isolated Wetland Permits: All After-the-Fact projects will be assessed double the sum of the application and review fees. 


U.S. EPA issued the 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) on March 28, 2013. The federal permit authorizes covers and regulates a wide variety of discharges from vessels, including ballast water (water and associated suspended sediments taken into or discharged from ballast tanks to maintain the stability of the vessel), bilge water and gray water discharged from vessels. Sanitary wastewater discharges are covered by U.S. Coast Guard regulations. The 2013 VGP has an effective date of December 19, 2013. 

To correspond with this federal permit, and ensure protection of Ohio's water quality, the Agency requires that certain vessels also obtain a Section 401 Water Quality Certification. The following general permits were issued in September, 2012. read more... 

Isolated wetlands are not connected to other surface waters. For this reason they are not classified as waters of the United States by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nevertheless, they are waters of the State of Ohio and are therefore regulated by the Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, Section 401 Wetlands and Streams Permitting Section.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has responsibility for:

  • determining whether wetlands exist within a particular project site;
  • confirming the number, boundaries and acreage of those wetlands;
  • determining whether those wetlands are “waters of the U.S.” or "isolated."

These written findings are recorded in a final jurisdictional determination (JD) which is sent to the entity requesting the JD and to Ohio EPA. See an example JD, identifying the presence of isolated wetlands.

When a final JD identifies isolated wetlands, regardless of isolated wetland acreage or category, Ohio EPA will send you a letter notifying you of the potential need for an isolated wetland permit application. See an example notification letter.

PLEASE NOTE: When the applicant requests, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues, a preliminary JD, all wetlands on the proposed site are assumed to be waters of the U.S., and will not be declared isolated. See the Corps Regulatory Guidance Letter on Jurisdictional Determinations.

Ohio EPA authority to regulate discharges of fill to isolated wetlands is provided in Ohio Revised Code 6111.02 through 6111.028.

When a project proposes to place fill in an isolated wetland, an isolated wetland permit is required. Fill is defined in paragraphs (D) and (E) of Ohio Revised Code 6111.02.

There are three levels of isolated permit application review as summarized in the table below. Once you have determined which level of review applies to your proposed project, click on the links in the table to get details about the application and review processes and the associated permit you can expect to get.

Wetland Category Acres of Potential Wetland Impact Public Notice Required? Mandatory Public Hearing? Ohio EPA Permit Review Period Type of Permit Type of IWP Review and Links to More Information
1 or 2 0.5 acres or less No No 30 days* General Permit Level 1
1 more than 0.5 acres Yes No 90 days* Individual Level 2 Isolated Wetland Permit. See example Level 2
2 more than 0.5 acres but less than or equal to 3 acres
2 more than 3 acres Yes No 180 days* Individual Level 3 Isolated Wetland Permit. See example Level 3
3 any size Yes Yes
             

* The permit review period begins on the date when Ohio EPA sends you a letter documenting that the application is complete.

Key provisions of the 401 Water Quality Certification and Isolated Wetland Permit fees are:

  • A person that applies for a Certification or Permit must pay an application fee of $200 at the time of application.
  • In addition to the application fee, that person must pay the following review fees:

 Resource Impacted

Review Fee

 Wetland

 $500 per acre

 Ephemeral Stream

 $5 per linear foot or $200, whichever is greater

 Intermittent Stream

 $10 per linear foot or $200, whichever is greater

 Perennial Stream

 $15 per linear foot or $200, whichever is greater

 Lake

 $3 per cubic yard of dredged or fill material

  • For 401 Water Quality Certification applications, one-half of the applicable review fee is due at the time of application. The remainder of the fee shall be paid at the time the Director takes an action on the application.

  • For Isolated Wetland Permit applications, the entire review fee is due at the time of application.

The total fee paid shall not exceed $25,000 per application. If the applicant is a county, township, or municipal corporation in the state, the total fee paid shall not exceed $5,000 per application.

When submitting an application, please provide a check, payable to the Treasurer of the State of Ohio for the application fee and one half of the review fee. The balance of the review fee will be due once the Agency has taken a final action on an application. You will receive an invoice from Ohio EPA for the remaining fees that are due.

For Isolated Wetland Permits: All After-the-Fact projects will be assessed double the sum of the application and review fees.

Ohio EPA has pre-granted Section 401 Water Quality Certifications (WQC) to 404 permits for certain types of projects that are similar in nature and cause minimal degradation to waters of the state. These permits are called Nationwide Permits and substantially expedite the permitting process. To determine if your project qualifies for Nationwide Permit coverage, or requires an individual Section 401 WQC from Ohio EPA, applicants should contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first to discuss the project.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Contacts

Section 401 Water Quality Certifications for Nationwide Permits

On March 30, 2012, Ohio EPA finalized the 2012 Clean Water Act Section 401 Certifications for the Nationwide Permits published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the March 19, 2012 Federal Register. More information is available in the response to comments.

Section 401 Water Quality Certifications for Coal Nationwide Permits

On April 19, 2012, Ohio EPA finalized the 2012 Clean Water Act Section 401 Certifications for the Coal Nationwide Permits published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the March 19, 2012 Federal Register. More information is available in the response to comments.

Ohio EPA List of Special Waters April 2014

The following is a partial list of recommendations to use when considering your project. These recommendations will help ensure that your project is feasible, and if so, correctly planned. For more details, please see the Coordinated Application Process for Surface Coal Mine Sites guidance document. Some projects may qualify for a Coal Nationwide Permit Certification.

  • In order to facilitate a more efficient application review process, it is recommended that the applicant submit Section 401 WQC and/or IWP applications in accordance with the Coordinated Application Process (CAP) as approved by Ohio EPA's Division of Surface Water, Ohio Department of Natural Resources — Division of Mineral Resource Management, and United States Army Corps of Engineers — Huntington and Pittsburgh Districts.
  • Timber harvesting on a site should not occur until after the applicant has received all permits necessary to mine the site. If timber harvesting must commence before the permits are obtained, harvesting should not occur until after Ohio EPA has verified the use attainability analyses of surface water resources submitted by the applicant.
  • Ohio EPA requires that compensatory mitigation for stream and wetland impacts be protected in perpetuity. If mineral rights are to be leased, the applicant should inform the landowner that restrictions will be placed on his or her property to protect on-site stream or wetland compensatory mitigation in perpetuity. The applicant should hold this discussion with the landowner prior to entering into any landowner agreements and submittal of a 401 WQC or IWP application.
  • Permanent sediment ponds result in the loss of stream habitat and may block fish passage, and affect water quality in other ways. In order to comply with Ohio Water Quality Standards, permanent ponds should not be proposed in intermittent or perennial streams.
  • Temporary sediment ponds should be placed as close to the mining activities as practicable to avoid unnecessary stream impacts from sediment transport.
  • Applicants should pre-plan their project assuming a 180-day Ohio EPA decision making time frame, and therefore eliminate project changes (adjustments to permit boundaries, water resource impacts, etc.) which could result in additional costs to the applicant, as well as longer Ohio EPA review.
  • Ohio EPA cannot make changes or exceptions in review procedures which are required by State laws and rules to make up for previously lost time by the applicant or to meet unreasonable deadlines.
Wetland Permitting Unit


Queen, Ric
Section Manager 
(614) 644-2872
Taulbee, Rachel
Unit Supervisor 
(614) 644-2494
Allamon, Heather  Projects in Northwest District  (419) 352-8461 
Corder, Maggie Energy & Other Projects in Southeast District  (614) 644-2007
Vacant
Coal Projects 
Loucek, Joe  Projects in Northeast District  (330) 963-1258 
Lung, Joni  ODOT Projects Statewide  (614) 644-2152 
See, Michael   Projects in Central and Southwest Districts  (614) 644-2327 
Surrena, Todd  Shale Gas Projects in Northeast District  (330) 963-1255 
Wilk, Ed  Projects in Northeast District  (330) 963-1172 
     

In this video, Agency expert Ric Queen explains wetland classifications, and how the Agency monitors impacts to Ohio wetlands through the permitting processes.